Obesity is a widespread problem in the civilian world, but now it’s spreading to a dangerous profession: Police and other first responders. Adding to the issue is that it’s not seen as a problem by higher-ups.
“We really are the world’s largest police department,” said one veteran cop who’s worked in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. “We’re the fattest police department in the country because we have no requirement to stay in shape.”
The deep concern of the overweight cops’ fellow officers is that their out-of-shape colleagues will not be able to provide physical back up in certain situations–or even the simple act of walking up several flights of stairs due to the exertion required.
An example: Approximately 6 years ago, a deputy in the Washington County Sheriff’s department in Oregon was so overweight, the man in his custody was able to push him over and escape, despite being handcuffed, by dashing out of the courthouse and onto a city train that stops almost directly in front of the building.
The other deputies were also unable to react in time due to their status of also being overweight.
The man was caught not long after; in a statement, he said it was an easy escape: “It was like tipping a cow.”
(The county has since created physical requirements and yearly testing.)
Similarly: In 2015, surveillance video caught two tubby NYPD detectives unable to chase down a shooting suspect who escaped from custody and outran them in Harlem—with both hands cuffed behind his back.
Often, elevators do not work in NYC apartment buildings; one cop spoke of having to use the stairs when responding to an incident in a Brooklyn housing project. His partner was a woman about 5 feet tall and more than 250 pounds.
“Around the fourth flight, I turned around because I couldn’t hear her anymore,” the cop reported. “I had to go down to the third flight and find her. She was folded over, hanging on to the wall. God forbid there was an emergency [requiring a chase as I’d be] on my own.”
Compounding the obesity issue is a lack of personal responsibility.
Jose Vega, an NYPD cop who began his career at 180lbs after serving as a Marine, soared to 395, citing the job as the reason, and is now suing the city for disability.
In a statement, Vega’s lawyer said, “It’s easier to pull into McDonald’s and wolf something down when you’re busy.’’
The FDNY, requires that firefighters and emergency medical technicians pass very comprehensive physicals on a yearly basis; the exams include weigh-ins, cardiac exams, vision checks—as well as blood and vision checks.
If the firefighter or EMT fails to meet any of the standards, they are sidelined until they are able to pass.
So why hasn’t a similar requirement been given for the NYPD?
Bill Bratton, who was the police commissioner in 2015, considered doing so, but passed on the idea “because it would have to be written into union contracts.”
Other police departments use incentives to keep their police in shape—such as in Chicago, where an award of a $350 bonus is given for passing fitness tests. Other forces give out cash and extra vacation days.
Some police departments across the country use incentives to keep their cops in shape, with Chicago awarding a $350 bonus for passing a fitness test and Columbus, Ohio, giving out cash, vacation days and ribbons.
Additional issues to the inability to react and provide backup is that some NYPD officers are so obese, they have extreme difficulty putting on the car’s seat belt. To compensate, they have to move the seat back.
One cop told The Post about having to use the stairs with the elevator out while responding to an incident in a Brooklyn housing project. His partner was a woman about 5 feet tall and more than 250 pounds.
“Around the fourth flight, I turned around because I couldn’t hear her anymore,” the cop recalled. “I had to go down to the third flight and find her. She was folded over, hanging on to the wall.
“God forbid there was an emergency, I’m pretty much on my own,” he said.
Another officer stated, “Fitness requirements would be a first step toward improving officers’ health and conditioning throughout both their careers and lifetimes. Simply put, it’s vital to officer safety.”
What do you think about this issue?
What could be done?
How could more personal responsibility be encouraged to compensate for the “problem” of working requirements into contracts?
If you’re a police officer or first responder, are there requirements?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below—and we’ll send you FREE SGPT STICKERS!
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